Sunday, June 5, 2011

Unpromising campaign, under the shadow of the crisis and the forced austerity

Both the Socialist leader Jose Socrates, as the social Pedro Passos Coelho chose Lisbon finale. In the area of the EXPO98, symbol of the modernity of Lisbon, the Socialist asked undecided voters, arguing that Portugal is going through a "particularly serious moment" for what he believes abstinence may not be as high as in the elections of 2009, which exceeded 40%.

Faced with the possibility of a right-wing coalition government, Socrates said that what is at stake is the "social justice". Pedro Passos Coelho also closed the season in Lisbon, but in a much more historical, Largo do Carmo, where in April 1974 he experienced the Carnation Revolution that brought democracy to Portugal.

The Social referred to the date saying that the Portuguese "were freed from the dictatorship" and now I will make the crisis "to achieve a more hopeful future." In his last appeal to vote no secret that the social times ahead will be "difficult and rigorous," so that government will take a "strong, coherent and united." For its part, the candidate of the Communist Party (PCP), Jerónimo de Sousa has launched this inquiry Portuguese voters: "Have you thought about what will become of his life after this election?" Asking so do not vote the three center-right parties (Socialists, Social Democrats and Christian Democrats) who have signed the memorandum of understanding to receive foreign aid.

In exchange for the 78,000 million euros to save Portugal from bankruptcy, the executive who quit the early elections on Sunday will have to meet commitments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission (EC). The principal, reducing the current deficit of 8.6% to 3% in 2013.

In negotiations, both the socialist government in office as the two conservative opposition parties pledged to implement tough austerity measures and to undertake deep structural reforms in the coming years. But neither the socialist Jose Socrates and the social Pedro Passos Coelho has used the campaign to explain to the Portuguese how they will do so without further increase unemployment, which already exceeds 12%, and with a recession than 2% this year.

The campaign has been more marked by mutual accusations over who is responsible for the crisis that the proposals for solutions and there has been almost no campaign promise because they know that neither candidate will meet voters and be believed. José Socrates blames Passos Coelho's resignation, the internal political crisis and having to stop using foreign aid that he believed was dispensable.

This socialist attitude has also been harshly criticized by his political rival, who has been branded as arrogant and do not accept that Portugal needed long before resorting to external finance. Amid the exchange of accusations, the Portuguese did not seem to decide between the evil known or unknown good, reflecting the uncertainty lusa in the polls during the first part of the campaign gave a technical tie between the two main candidates.

With the passage of time, Passos Coelho was gaining an advantage but all he said about the future, if confirmed to be the next prime minister, is to "implement all measures of foreign aid program." That means having to cut pensions by 10% over 1,500 euros, increasing fees for access to the NHS, raising taxes again, eliminating all exemptions and tax benefits, reducing welfare aid and carry out two important and difficult structural reforms, one in the labor market, to lower the discharge and shorten the term value and unemployment, and another in the central and regional administration, where the IMF and the EC require that drastically reduce the excessive number of municipalities and municipal boards.

José Socrates says that signing the pact with the IMF is the best way Passos Coelho has been found to hide a neoliberal political agenda that threatens the social status that he advocates. The conservative responds by saying that Socrates six years have left the country mired in its worst economic crisis, financial and social development as advocated by the exchange that promises to grow as a return to Portugal in the years of economic prosperity.

To the question of Communist Jeronimo de Sousa on what life will be after the election many Portuguese shrug. Statistics show that over 60% of the population believes that Portugal within a year will be even worse than now. It depends on the prime minister that expires on Sunday to resolve the situation.

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